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Video of Brian David Mitchell's police interrogation released

Published August 5, 2011 12:46 pm

2003 arrest • Kidnapper was interviewed just after being found with Elizabeth Smart.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A video tape of Brian David Mitchell's interviews with Utah law enforcement following his 2003 arrest for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart was released Thursday by the U.S. District Court.

U.S. District Court Judge Dale Kimball signed an order releasing the video in response to a motion filed by attorneys for The Salt Lake Tribune and KUTV, asking that the interrogation video be made public after the completion of Mitchell's court proceedings.

The video — recorded March 12, 2003, the day Mitchell and Wanda Barzee were arrested in Sandy with Smart — shows Mitchell fending off questions from an FBI agent and a Salt Lake City police detective.

The video can be seen at http://www.sltrib.com.

During the two-hour interrogation, Detective Cordon Parks and Agent Jeffrey Ross try a number of tactics to elicit a confession. They yell, befriend, belittle, curse, quote scripture, and call Mitchell a pedophile and a sinner — but Mitchell parries with evasiveness and his own scripture quotations.

In the end, Mitchell admits little more than that he spent nine months with Smart.

The Tribune sought a copy of the video — which was shown in open court — on two prior occasions: after Mitchell's competency hearing and during his trial. The requests were denied for reasons of curbing pretrial publicity and also because a judge ruled the First Amendment right to access court records was satisfied by providing a transcript of the proceedings.

The Tribune asked Kimball to reconsider releasing the video in the motion filed earlier this month.

"The Tribune has waited until now to renew its request in order to avoid any concerns about the defendant's fair trial rights since the verdict is now final, there is no possibility for an appeal, and there is no possibility of a retrial where the court would need to impanel another impartial jury," attorney Michael O'Brien wrote.

Kimball granted the request, with the stipulation that two names of children previously abused by Mitchell and who are brought up in interviews be redacted from the video.

The 57-year-old Mitchell was convicted in federal court and sentenced to life in prison for the 2002 kidnapping and rape of then-14-year-old Smart from her Salt Lake City home at knifepoint. At Mitchell's federal trial, which concluded in December, defense attorneys claimed Mitchell suffered from religious delusions and said he was insane at the time he kidnapped Smart and during her nine months of captivity. Jurors rejected that theory.

Mitchell told his attorney's he did not want to appeal his conviction. A state case against Mitchell was also dismissed.

During the 2003 interrogation, Mitchell gives the officers his correct date of birth but says his name is Immanuel David Isaiah, and gives his home address as "heaven."

He refuses to admit abducting Smart from her Federal Heights home at knifepoint in the early hours of June 5, 2002.

Mitchell says he is the Lord's servant, that God "delivered" Smart to him and that the Lord told him she was 18 years old. Mitchell denies "marrying" Smart, saying instead, "She was sealed to me as my wife."

Asked if he had sex with the girl, Mitchell replies: "These are very personal and private questions."

At this point, Mitchell appears relaxed, sitting back in his chair with his feet up on another chair.

Threatened with life in prison, Mitchell says: "Do you understand God has the power to deliver me out of the hands of all my enemies?"

The officers tell Mitchell if he confesses, Smart will not have to relive the past nine months on the witness stand.

"She's had a glorious experience," Mitchell counters. "We've had many trial and tribulations. She knows who I am. She knows I'm a servant of the Lord." That statement caused Smart and her father, Ed Smart, to exchange looks of amazement in court.

Later, the two officers move close to Mitchell and their voices rise as they accuse him of being a child rapist. Mitchell shouts repeatedly, "Your accusations are false," and, "I never raped anybody."

Ross complains to Mitchell that whenever the conversation gets close to the criminal accusations "all this theological stuff starts spewing out of your mouth."

Mitchell then asks to use the restroom, and returns singing the hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour." He continues singing — with Parks joining in at one point — until Ross sings, too.

Later, Mitchell shouts seven times, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" then closes his eyes and says little more, despite the officers calling him "street beggar" and "loser," and expressing disgust at forcing a girl to have sex with "your smelly, repulsive self."

Mitchell now remains in the Salt Lake County jail pending assignment to a federal prison to serve his sentence.

mrogers@sltrib.com

Twitter: @mrogers_trib —

Watch it on tape

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